Hello all! This is my first post here so forgive me if this is in the wrong place.
I started WK about a year ago, but frankly, I wasn’t serious about my studies until very recently. I’ve begun a bit of daily immersion now and I’ve started studying a bit of grammar in some other places as well, but my main focus has been getting back on the WK horse and staying on it. It’s been a bit of a slow process getting the ball rolling again, but for various personal reasons, I’m much more prepared in every way possible to commit to this and get deeper into actually learning this language.
Anyways, you can skip all of that if you’d like. Here’s my question/concern: I’m a bit worried that I might be getting good at WaniKani, and not actually learning much of practical usage. Here’s what I’ve noticed, for example.
Take a word like 今すぐ, meaning “immediately.” Right around the same time I learned that word, I was also taught the word 今まで, meaning “until now”. Both use 今, obviously, and then both have another word after it, giving them both very different meanings. My concern here is that if I’m just seeing these words in the context of WK, I might not fully be “learning” the words but rather just learning “here’s what WK wants me to say”.
For example, let’s say I get both of them in the same review session, which has happened a couple times. At one point, I got one of these words wrong, although I knew it was one or the other. I checked the right answer, moved on. Then I got the other word. This time, I didn’t know what it was because I knew what it was, I knew what it was because I’d already gotten the other wrong in a 50/50 chance. So I knew simply through process of elimination that it was the answer I chose previously but got incorrect, and then I moved on. I did review it, I re-read the mnemonics afterwards, tried to drill it into my head, but these words are still planted in there as “one of two things, if you get one wrong, it’s the other”. And I’m worried that’s all my brain is knowing, and that if I were to naturally run into these words I wouldn’t know what they were in a real-life context.
Another example would be alternate readings. When WK introduces a new kanji, as you know, it gives you one, maybe two or three common readings of that kanji. It tends to introduce you to the on’yomi readings specifically. Later on, you’ll probably see that same kanji on its own (not in part of another word or phrase), and then when a single kanji word is alone, it usually takes the kun’yomi reading.
This is awesome and I love that we get both because obviously both are necessary. But, I feel like my brain is more just looking at the color around the kanji and using that to remember the reading rather than actually learning “this is on’yomi, this is kun’yomi”. This problem is especially exacerbated when words either take alternate meanings or are exceptions to the general reading rules (like 下町 being kun’yomi). In instances like that, again, it feels less like I’m learning the readings or the rules properly and more just learning what WK wants me to say.
Obviously the WK stuff is all correct, so it’s not like I’m learning wrong information. And when things are more straightforward this isn’t an issue at all, it’s when I see two similar words or weird exceptions in the context of WK that I have these concerns.
Now, I’m wondering if maybe my concerns are a bit invalid for one reason, and that reason is the word 今日. This is a weird reading for both kanji, as you probably know. However, at this point in my immersion, I’ve seen and heard it enough that I just know how to read it and what it means immediately in any context (more so when reading and less when listening since I still need to work on that). If my concerns were totally valid 100% of the time, then I’d never have been able to identify that word anywhere besides in WK.
So I guess what I’m getting at is this: first, does anyone have any tips for maybe avoiding this type of “gaming the system” that my brain seems to be doing automatically? Because it kind of feels like when you’re taking a multiple choice test and you know it’s not two of the options so you have a 50/50 shot. It’s not even recognition, it’s just getting good at taking a test, a totally different skill set from actually learning the material.
Second, will this problem likely be cleared up with more immersion in the same way that 今日 was? If so, do you have any tips for trying to be more mindful and conscious about recognizing that you actually know a word? Because I am a bit concerned too that I might just be brushing over stuff when I see it in the wild, stuff that I’ve actually learned from WK because I just assume I don’t know it since I don’t recognize it in whatever the different context might be.
Thanks for reading! I hope that wasn’t too much or too rambly, I partially wanted to just get all of this out of my head in addition to genuinely wanting some answers from more experienced learners. Thank you in advance for your help!